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Airlines Improve On-Time Performance in February

Airlines Improve On-Time Performance in February

DOT 59-05
Bill Mosley

Tuesday, April 5, 2005 - The nation's largest airlines experienced a lower rate of flight delays in February 2005 than in either the previous month or in February of last year, according to the Air Travel Consumer Report released today by the U.S. Department of Transportation (DOT).

According to information filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics (BTS), a part of DOT's Research and Innovative Technology Administration, the 19 carriers reporting on-time performance recorded an overall on-time arrival rate of 77.6 percent in February, up slightly from February 2004's 77.5 percent and well above January 2005's 71.4 percent.

The monthly report also includes data on flight cancellations and causes of flight delays, as well as information on reports of mishandled baggage filed with the carriers, and consumer service, disability and discrimination complaints received by DOT's Aviation Consumer Protection Division.


The consumer report includes BTS data on the number of domestic flights canceled by the reporting carriers. In February, the carriers canceled 1.7 percent of their scheduled domestic flights, identical to February 2004's mark and well below January 2005's 4.2 percent cancellation rate.

Causes of Flight Delays

The carriers filing on-time performance data reported that 8.34 percent of their February flights were delayed by aviation system delays, compared to 8.96 percent in January 2005; 5.86 percent by late-arriving aircraft, compared to 7.17 percent in January; 5.40 percent by factors within the airline's control, such as maintenance or crew problems, compared to 6.52 percent in January; 0.88 percent by extreme weather, compared to 1.38 percent in January; and 0.04 percent for security reasons, compared to 0.07 percent in January. Weather is a factor in both the extreme-weather category and the aviation-system category. This includes delays due to the re-routing of flights by DOT's Federal Aviation Administration in consultation with the carriers involved. Weather is also a factor in delays attributed to late-arriving aircraft, although airlines do not report specific causes in that category. Airlines first began reporting causes of delays in June 2003.

Data collected by BTS also show the percentage of overall flights delayed by weather, including those reported in either the category of extreme weather or included in National Aviation System delays. In February, 5.28 percent of flights were delayed by weather, down 13.44 percent from February 2004, when 6.10 percent of flights were delayed by weather, and down 14.01 percent from January when 6.14 percent of flights were delayed by weather.

Detailed information on flight delays and their causes is available on the BTS site on the World Wide Web at

Mishandled Baggage

The U.S. carriers reporting flight delay and mishandled baggage data posted a mishandled baggage rate of 6.07 reports per 1,000 passengers in February, higher than February 2004's 4.71 rate but well below January 2005's 7.88 mark.

Complaints About Airline Service

In February, the Department received 585 complaints from consumers about airline service, 11.9 percent fewer than the total of 664 received in February 2004 and 57.5 percent below the total of 1,375 received in January 2005.

Complaints About Treatment of Disabled Passengers

The report also contains a tabulation of complaints filed with DOT in February against specific airlines regarding the treatment of passengers with disabilities. The Department received a total of 49 disability-related complaints in February, 5.8 percent less than the 52 complaints received in February 2004 and 2.1 percent more than the 48 complaints filed in January 2005.

Complaints About Discrimination

In January, the Department received eight complaints alleging discrimination by airlines due to factors other than disability – such as race, religion, national origin or sex – compared to seven complaints in February 2004 and 13 in January 2005.

Consumers may file their complaints in writing with the Aviation Consumer Protection Division, U.S. Department of Transportation, C-75, Room 4107, 400 7th St. SW, Washington, DC 20590; by e-mail at; by voice mail at (202) 366-2220 or by TTY at (202) 366-0511.

Consumers who want on-time performance data for specific flights should call their airline ticket offices or their travel agents. This information is available on the computerized reservation systems used by these agents.

The Air Travel Consumer Report can be found on DOT's World Wide Web site at It is available in "pdf" and Microsoft Word format.

Air Travel Consumer Report February 2005
Key On-Time Performance and Flight Cancellation Statistics

Based on Data Filed with the Bureau of Transportation Statistics by the 19 Reporting Carriers


77.6 percent on-time arrivals

Highest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 96.1 percent

2. Skywest Airlines – 82.6 percent

3. ATA Airlines– 81.3 percent

Lowest On-Time Arrival Rates

1. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 64.5 percent

2. AirTran Airways – 69.1 percent

3. JetBlue Airways – 71.8 percent

Most Frequently Delayed Flights

1. US Airways flight 1809 from Reagan Washington National to Houston – late 90.00 percent of the time

2. JetBlue Airways flight 116 from Fort Lauderdale, FL to New York JFK – late 89.29 percent of the time

3. US Airways flight 706 from Fort Lauderdale, FL to Newark, NJ – late 86.96 percent of the time

4. Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 4363 from Atlanta to Lexington, KY – late 85.71 percent of the time

4. JetBlue Airways flight 40 from Fort Lauderdale, FL to New York JFK – late 85.71 percent of the time

4. Atlantic Southeast Airlines flight 4255 from Salt Lake City to Las Vegas – late 85.71 percent of the time

Highest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Atlantic Southeast Airlines – 6.0 percent

2. Comair – 3.2 percent

3. American Eagle Airlines – 2.8 percent

Lowest Rates of Canceled Flights

1. Hawaiian Airlines – 0.0 percent *

2. JetBlue Airways – 0.1 percent

3. Continental Airlines – 0.6 percent

*Hawaiian canceled one flight out of 3,553 scheduled flights in February.